Thursday, October 4, 2012

Review: Dark Soul by Aleksandr Voinov

Title: Dark Soul: The Complete Collection
Author: Aleksandr Voinov
Series: Dark Soul (1-5)
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: 1 June 2012

Love lights even the darkest soul.

A killer's moral compass rarely points true, and among made men, being gay is a capital crime. But Silvio Spadaro, deadly prodigy and heir to a Family fortune, is determined to find his own way--at the feet of the man he loves or by the barrel of a gun--no matter the dangers or costs.

Stefano Marino lives a comfortable--some might even say enviable--life. As a mob boss at the top of the food chain, he has it all: money, respect, a beautiful wife he loves as much now as the day they wed. But he also has a turf war on his hands, and far too soft a heart for this dark business.

When Silvio is sent to help Stefano with his turf war, sparks fly. Stefano loves his wife, but he wants Silvio. It's a desire he hardly knows how to process, but Silvio, ever the patient predator, maneuvers Stefano closer and closer to his bed each day. Stefano resists; giving in to these dark desires means giving up on his marriage, and exposure would surely mean death. Yet there's no denying Silvio's magnetic pull, or the long-repressed urges inside himself. Yielding is inevitable, but he may yet find a way to hold on to everything--and everyone--he loves.

I admit, I was trepidatious when I started this collection. I knew it was going to push some of my limits – and probably blow right by others. And I wasn't wrong. Dark Soul isn't an easy or gentle love story, but it's oh-so worth it.

I'm going to try not to spoil much of the story, because I think that there's a lot to be said for experiencing each moment as it comes. Additionally it's hard to pick out moments that happen in the book without being able to explain every step that brought the characters to that moment. The above story blurb does a pretty good job of giving you a set-up on who the characters are, but what it doesn’t do is tell you how absolutely attached you'll become to these two.

I never expected to like, much less love two characters in the mafia – one a boss, and the other a hitman – but it didn't take long for me to start rooting for these two. Stefano has a deeply honorable side, something that will always draw me. And Silvio is so utterly honest. With himself, about himself, and about others. Not that he advertises he's gay, he does keep it quiet, but he makes no apologies, no excuses, and doesn't ever even worry. He's comfortable in who he is, Silvio's just looking for someone to be comfortable with.

Stefano is definitely that man. He's instantly attracted to Silvio, and doesn’t quite know what to do with that attraction. But as his trust, and care, grow for Silvio it makes it that much harder to keep from acting on it. Stefano's struggle with his feelings for his wife and Silvio – at the same time – was one of the most poignant things in this book. Considering I'd come to care about Donata, Stefano's wife, as well I had a vested interest in how it was all going to turn out. I will say that I was absolutely breathless at the resolution, not to mention incredibly happy and relieved.

I said it earlier, but I'll say it again: Dark Soul has some tough moments. If you absolutely can't stand dubious consent (in any form), or cheating at all, it does occur here. However, while both of those things are normally huge issues for me, turning me off of a book instantly, Aleksandr Voinov managed to handle two incredibly difficult subjects beautifully, with grace and care. I would definitely recommend this series to anyone willing to read something that might take them just a bit outside their comfort zone – I know they'll be glad they did. I was.

Mr. Voinov has definitely gained a fan in me, and I can't wait to pick up more of his works.

I do admit that I like the covers for the individual series better than the collection.

Grade: B+

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